Coffee farming originated from Africa before it spread to other countries of the world. China and India has taken their tea production to another level such that their product now floods our country Nigeria and other African countries as well. That is why we have to rise up and take our place not just as major producers of coffee but also the major exporters of coffee in the world.
Yes we all know that Agriculture is the best way to raise our economy and it is also the sector that employs most. Recently, we diversified into rice cultivation and we are making a huge success out of it. Why can’t we do same to coffee? This is a clarion call for enterprising investors and entrepreneur to take a second look at coffee farming.
Good enough the Nigeria senate has propose a bill which has already passed second reading to establish “The National Tea and Coffee Development Council. that will provide the framework for the development, production, commercialisation and consumption of made in Nigeria tea and coffee to reduce the billions of Naira we spend in the importation of the product.” This was reported by Vanguard Newspaper, November,2017.
Coffee is the second most consumed commodity in the world. The coffee producing States in Nigeria are; Bauchi, Kwara and Osun meanwhile there are other temperate regions that can support the growing of coffee in Nigeria.
This post is to give you a step by step procedure towards establishing a successful coffee farming business.
The two commonly traded species the Arabica (upland coffee) is suitable for farming in an altitude of 800m above see level example is Northern Cross River (obudu), Plateau State (Jos) and Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State. Jos has an altitude of over 4000 feet which is the reason why they experience cold weather. And also the reason for having adorable fruits that are not found in lowland.
Robusta (lowland coffee) has an altitude of 135 feet below sea level. And can do well in a soil that cocoa is grown because they have the same climatic requirements and adaptation.
Choose soil that is suitable for coffee farming particularly the cultivation of commercial coffee. This should be a well drain moist and loosed soil rich in organic matter. Raise each bed to a height of 15cm from the ground so as to be on a good side during irrigation.
The soil should be mildly acidic with a PH of 5.0-6.0
In coffee farming just like in oil palm farming, planting from seed takes a long time to mature. For quick harvest it is preferable you buy from orchards that has already raised the seedlings most especially the hybrid coffee plant. If you want to plant the seed by yourself crush the cherry with your hands or use a wooden spoon to get the bean.
Wash the beans with water and put them in a container for a few days so they can ferment. The pulp will fall off, use your hand to remove the remaining ones if any. Pour them inside water to separate the good ones for planting. Anyone that floats should be drawn away. Air dry the non floated beans for about 4 days on a shade (not under sunlight)
The cheery that cab be used should be a freshly harvested one but any one between the first day of harvest to four months is viable, the seed should germinate between 2-5 months. Viability of the seed reduces with time.
Fill the container or plastic you are using with sand mixed with farmyard manure of equal amount together. Wet the sand with water moderately and push 1 seed down into it. You can transfer to another bigger plastic or box after 9 months or when the seedlings have fully germinated.
Spacing should be 30cm apart, hole 50cm depth, length 50cm wide.
Dig a hole large enough to contain the seedling. Remove the seedling from the container or plastic and slide into the hole, leave the crown of the tree above the surface and put sand firmly on it.
The spacing for different varieties of single row double row in meters are;
Liberica 4 x 5 x 5.5m
Excelsia 4 x 5 x 5.5m
Robusta 3 x 1 .5 – 3 x 3m 2 x 2 x 2 x 4m
Arabica 3 x 1 – 3 x 2m 2 x 2 x 2 x 3m
Propagation in coffee farming can be done asexually by the use of clone. This is a part of plant that is construe to reproduce a young plant to have the same characteristics with the parent plant.
Take the part of the tree you wants to use and cut out some leaves before splitting it into 2 halves. The tree should have about 4-6 nodes, a finger size vertical shoot of about one foot long to form a clone.
Build a germination box 1 x 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep place the box at the spot you are using and insert the clone tree inside. After 45 days the tree will start to produce roots and shoots. Put the seedlings into plastic bags, in about 6-8 months time the seedlings would have grown with about 4-6 pairs.
Transplant again to the main field when the leaves are up to 6 with no branches formed on it yet. Dig hole that will contain the plant with all the roots in place. It should be done at the start of raining reason so that they can be well established before dry season sets in. Mix phosphorus (tablespoon size) fertilizer with the soil and fill the hole back. 18 months after transplanting the coffee plant, it will start bearing fruits.
Ikg of seed can produce 3000 seedlings, 1111 stand of coffee can be planted in a hectare. A hectare requires 4kg of seedlings. You can inter-crop coffee with banana plants to provide shade for the crop.
IRRIGATION IN COFFEE FARMING
Water regularly until they are established then you reduce it to twice a week but not when it is raining. When the plants are fully established you can reduce watering to once a week. Coffee farming does not require too much watering a very well-distributed rainfall of about 40-70 inches annually is okay with a mild wind.
Apply fertilizer 6 weeks after transplanting and keep applying fertilizer every other 6 weeks. After 6 months apply fertilizer once every 2 weeks and after 3 months apply once a week. Prune your tree every 3 years to encourage new growth.
Robusta coffee is more consumed than Arabica. But Arabica is sweet and soft with a whiney taste and pleasant aroma. It has less caffeine than Robusta. Also, Robusta has a strong and harsh taste with high caffeine content.
Coffee produces berries 36 months after planting. Harvest them once a week when they are matured because they don’t ripen at the same time. Pull the beans with your fingers each berry has 2 beans inside. Remove the bean from the cherry and dry, soak them in water for a number of days and use another fresh water to wash when they form bubbles.
Dry them under sun for 7 days to ascertain if they are dried take one and squeeze with your mouth and it will crack. Remove the outer parchment and the layers (silver Skin) remaining the green bean only. Roast the green bean for 10 minutes in dryer.
Before you start planting look out for companies that produce coffee in the country, so as to know your target market. To get know also the terms and processes involved in their transactions.
When the coffee are matured meet the companies so you can supply to them. Or set up your own coffee factory. The processes of production are not complex.
Source: ENI BEST